Ohio History Journal


Editorialana.                       161


mouth begin to move and approaching the immobile features, silent for

centuries, he placed his ear to the stone lips and heard a sound like a

subdued murmur "you're another." As Artemus Ward would say of

this controversy of the critics "it would be funny if it were not serious."

The Mound Builders builded better than they knew. Their works are

food for thought and subjects for study. Certain it is that they were a

vast and enterprising and interesting race, whence and whither and why

we evidently have not learned. Archaeological "history" is largely archaeo-

logical speculation, and with speculation one man's guess is as good as

another's, unless it happens to be your own and then of course it is a

good deal better than some one's else.


"But first I would remark, that it is not a proper plan

For any scientific gent to whale his fellow-man,

And, if a member don't agree with his peculiar whim,

To lay for that same member for to 'put a head' on him."







In the first week in July it was the privilege of the editor to be the

guest for a day of two of the Hon. C. R. Gilmore of Eaton, the pretty

little county seat of Preble county. Mr. Gilmore is the son of the late

Judge W. J. Gilmore who was for many years a trustee of the Ohio State

Archaeological and Historical Society, and one of its most active and

enthusiastic advocates and workers. He was a devoted lover of historical

lore especially that pertaining to Ohio and the Northwest. His grave

is located in the picturesque cemetery of Eaton and commands a view

of the nearby hill upon which was located the memorable Fort St. Clair.

This historic site and the surrounding fields were the property of Judge

Gilmore, and at his death passed to the possession of his son Clement R.


Fort St. Clair was erected in the tempestuous months of the Winter

of 1791-2. It was started December 15, 1791, and completed January

26, 1792. Gen. Wilkinson sent Major John S. Gano, belonging to the

militia of the Territory, with a party to build the fort. William Henry

Harrison then but an ensign, commanded a guard every other night for

about three weeks, during the erection of the fort. They had neither fire

nor covering of any kind and suffered much from the winter cold. It

was a stockade of the usual kind, about three hundred feet square and had

about twenty acres cleared around it. The outline can yet be traced

in the contour of the field surface. It was designed to be the midway

fortification between Fort Hamilton on the south and Fort Jefferson on

Vol. XI.-11

162 Ohio Arch

162         Ohio Arch. and His. Society Publications.


the north-forts some forty-four miles apart. It was another advantageous

link in the chain of secure stations to extend from the Ohio to the mouth

of the Maumee. This line of forts, Washington, Hamilton, St. Clair,

Jefferson, Recovery, St. Marys, Defiance Deposit, Miami and Industry,

with some others near or along the line was for the purpose not only

of enabling transit across the state, but to form a continuous impediment

to the inroads of the hostile Indians of the old Northwest country. The

four southern posts, Washington, Hamilton, St. Clair and Jefferson were

about twenty-five miles apart, and connected by a road or trace cut

through the dense timber and undergrowth by the soldiers of St. Clair's

army. It required about six days to go on horse from Fort Washington

to Fort Jefferson and return. After St. Clair's defeat garrisons were

left at the posts and it was necessary to furnish these with provisions.

In the autumn of 1792, Little Turtle, the celebrated chief, at the head of

about 250 Mingo and Wyandot warriors, started out to attack a new

settlement of the whites then forming at the mouth of the Little Miami

river (Columbia, Ohio). When passing near Fort Hamilton, the Indians

attacked some of the garrison working in the timber and captured two of

them. From these they learned that a company of from fifty to one

hundred mounted Kentucky riflemen, escorting a brigade of pack-horses

and under command of Captain John Adair, were on the way to Ft. Jef-

ferson, and would pass on the return trip at a certain time. Ac-

cordingly they lay in ambush along the trail. The escort how-

ever rested at Fort Jefferson over Sunday, and did not appear as soon

as expected. Hearing when the Kentuckians had advanced as far as

Fort St. Clair, the Indians planned a surprise and attacked them before

daylight, November 6, 1792 under the walls of the fort. A hot fight

ensued which developed into a running scrimmage to near the present

site of Eaton, Ohio, where the Indians were lost sight of just after day

light. Twenty or thirty horses were killed, six left to the soldiers and

the balance taken by the Indians who seem to have made the attack

principally for this result. The bodies of two Indians were found among

the dead horses and several others had probably been carried away by

their friends. Several Americans were wounded and the following six

were killed: Lieutenant Job Hale; Sergeant Matthew English; Privates

Robert Bowling, Joseph Clinton; Isaac Jett and John Williams. These

six heroes lie buried in the grove just south of the south line of the fort.

Mr. C. R. Gilmore is about to have their board markers replaced by neat

stone slabs bearing the names as now designated, thus rescuing these

sacred spots from decay and oblivion.

It was on a bright Sabbath morning that Mr. Gilmore and the writer

footed the way from the town to the location of the Fort. Dodging

between showers, we trod the water-soaked fields, climbed the interven-

ing fences, walked the slippery logs across Garrison Branch, the swollen

stream near the battle ground, picked our path through the thick forest


Editorialana.                       163


to the row of graves in which repose the remains of the six heroes

who laid down their lives for the advancing civilization there on the con-

fines of the western frontier. For over one hundred years those sol-

diers of the infant Republic have mouldered in that secluded, forest-shaded

"god's acre"-far from the thoroughfare of the busy, noisy twentieth

century. It would seem that they ought always to so remain close to

the bounds of the old fort and on the scene of the conflict where they

fell; the stately trees of the woods sheltering their sepulture; in summer

singing low lullabies with their rustling foliage and in the Winter winds

sighing dirges to their memory. They were American patriots no less

than those who fell at Bunker Hill, Lundy's Lane, Monterey, Gettysburg

and San Juan; yea, more, for they fell in the depths of an almost

trackless forest, without the incentive of the pomp and circumstance of

war. When they were placed beneath the sod doubtless not a "drum

was heard, not a funeral note." They have no tablet of brass or shaft

of marble to record their deeds in the days that tried men's souls, but

they were the advance guards of the white civilization that was invading

the vast Northwest; they were the fearless and sacrificing sculptors who

carved from its primeval elements the modern proud Buckeye state. May

the bivouac of these braves never be disturbed.